The Philippines turned heads during the official launch of the Better Than Cash (BTC) Alliance in New York City, where global leaders and country representatives hailed the Aquino administration for its efforts to implement key reforms, particularly through information and communications technology (ICT).
“We are generating a lot of buzz in the international community, especially with the digital reform measures we’re now instituting. Since the beginning of the Aquino administration, we’ve emphasized our commitment to improved governance, and it’s increasingly clear to us that ICT will be a valuable instrument in achieving this,” Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad said.
“We’re finally keeping up with the international community and tapping the innovations at our disposal,” he added.
During the BTC launch, heads of state and other global leaders praised the Administration’s digitization initiatives, including the shift to electronic banking for the distribution of benefits to retired military and police personnel. Abad said that this will enable beneficiaries to receive their pensions faster, as well as ensure that only actual retirees will get their benefits. Additionally, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) benefits—currently distributed through ATM accounts—may soon be dispensed via mobile phone transactions.
The Administration has also been at the helm of the Cashless Card Purchase system, which will be piloted by the Department of National Defense (DND). This initiative will enable government personnel to use a card linked to an online system for authorized purchases, and allow easier monitoring of government transactions, facilitate accurate liquidation and auditing, and ensure efficient and transparent financial management in government agencies.
Another initiative is the National Payroll System (NPS), which is currently tested by six pilot agencies, namely, the departments of Budget and Management and Finance, Commission on Audit, Bureau of Treasury, the Department of Science and Technology – Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), and the National Computer Center (NCC). The NPS aims to facilitate the shift from cash or check payments to an electronic-based salary payment system, eliminating ghost entries in the payroll and expediting the release of monthly salaries of government employees.
Abad cited the example of the unpaid social benefits of teaching and non-teaching personnel of the Department of Education, which prompted the agency to shift to the NPS for its personnel.
The Administration will also set up the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) that will allow the online procurement of supplies and services for government offices.
“If implemented properly, the digitization of major processes in the bureaucracy will translate to the quicker and more efficient delivery of public goods and services. All of these is central to President Aquino’s goal of reforming government to spur economic growth and empower the poor and vulnerable,” Abad added.